DeLay's Politico column on "failures" of the Democratic Congress rife with falsehoods
Research ››› ››› SIMON MALOY
In his July 23 Politico column, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) wrote that "the defining characteristic of the new Democrat [sic] majority in Congress has been failure." DeLay claimed that the "collapse of the immigration bill is a perfect case study in the legislative idiocy that is right now posing as leadership in the Democratic Party," adding: "The Democrats wrote the immigration bill like it was 1977, when they commanded huge majorities -- behind closed doors, details kept even from their own caucus, as if confident their ideological pals at the networks and major newspapers would keep the story from the American people." At no point, however, did DeLay acknowledge that the immigration bill was actually written by a bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic senators, as well as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.
Additionally, DeLay attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for "propos[ing] one earmark that would have funneled federal dollars into a San Francisco neighborhood where her family owns four homes." In fact, as Media Matters for America noted, the earmark was reportedly requested by the Port of San Francisco to improve the city's waterfront district, and the Republican Study Committee -- which first highlighted the earmark request -- acknowledged on its blog that the four buildings owned by Pelosi and her husband were all between one and two miles away from where the improvement project would take place.
The Politico regularly publishes columns authored by DeLay, who is currently under indictment in Texas on money laundering charges relating to a campaign finance probe -- charges that led to his resignation as House majority leader in 2005. Despite the fact that DeLay used its pages to baselessly accuse another lawmaker -- Pelosi -- of corruption, The Politico has made no mention that he himself faces charges of corruption in any of his columns or in at least two articles that mentioned him. DeLay was also charged with conspiracy to violate Texas election code, though a state district judge threw out that charge in December 2005. On June 27, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled against reinstating the charge, according to the Associated Press.
In his July 23 column, DeLay wrote:
Six months on, the defining characteristic of the new Democrat [sic] majority in Congress has been failure: failure to lead, failure to communicate, failure to organize, failure to deliver. It's normal for a caucus long out of power to have some tough sledding when relearning how to run the place, but this crowd is taking incompetence to a new level. Forget about the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) right now are riding at the head of the Gang That Can't Even Shoot.
The collapse of the immigration bill is a perfect case study in the legislative idiocy that is right now posing as leadership in the Democratic Party. The Democrats wrote the immigration bill like it was 1977, when they commanded huge majorities -- behind closed doors, details kept even from their own caucus, as if confident their ideological pals at the networks and major newspapers would keep the story from the American people. Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid simply do not understand that you can't manage Congress in a vacuum of closed-door meetings and party discipline. The idea that a handful of senators could get together in secret, write a 1,000-page bill opposed by 70 percent of the American people, come down off Mount Sinai and demand a supermajority of support with less than 48 hours' lead time is even stupider than it sounds. Pelosi's and Reid's careers are far from over, but I think it's fair to say that Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson they ain't.
DeLay later referred to the failed immigration proposal as the "Bush-Kennedy amnesty bill" but gave no indication that the bill was developed and strongly supported by several Republican senators. The bill failed a June 28 cloture vote 46-53, though 12 Republican senators voted in favor of cloture and bringing the bill to a vote. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), one of the bill's strongest proponents, issued a May 25 press release declaring he was "proud to support this historic overhaul of our immigration system," and on June 28 announced he was "disappointed that the Senate was unable to conclude its debate on comprehensive immigration reform" after it failed the cloture vote. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) wrote in a May 29 column: "For weeks, senators and administration officials worked to forge a bill that secures our border, creates workable and effective interior and workplace enforcement, realistically deals with the people illegally here, and designs a truly temporary worker program that responds to the nation's fluctuating labor needs." Contrary to DeLay's claim that "Democrats wrote the immigration bill," the bill was actually a product of bipartisan Senate negotiation, with input from two Bush Cabinet secretaries, as the Associated Press reported on June 28:
The measure was the product of a liberal-to-conservative alliance led by Kennedy and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that forged an immigration compromise intended to withstand challenges from the left and right.
They advocated the resulting measure as an imperfect but necessary fix to the current system, in which millions of illegal immigrants use forged documents or lapsed visas to live and work in the U.S.
Bush made an unusually personal appeal for passage of the legislation, appearing at a luncheon with Senate Republicans this month to urge them to put aside their skepticism.
He sent Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, as well as his top policy aides, to spend hours in Capitol Hill meetings with senators over a period of months to develop and then help push through the deal.
The two secretaries were on hand to buttonhole senators as they entered the chamber for votes.
The worst of the lot, of course, is earmarks. The Democrats for years ran against the Republicans' supposed culture of corruption. Speaker Pelosi called for an end to all earmarks, publicly and repeatedly. She called for earmarks to be open to public scrutiny. She called for a ban on earmarks that would personally impact a member's finances. To date, every single one of these campaign pledges have been broken. Democrats to date have passed one spending bill, a continuing resolution left over from the previous Congress, and it contained hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks. Pelosi herself proposed one earmark that would have funneled federal dollars into a San Francisco neighborhood where her family owns four homes. Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) admitted on "Meet the Press" that $20 billion in pork was put into a bill to buy the votes of reluctant Democrats. And despite repeated pledges to the contrary, Democrats have made no move to require members to disclose earmark requests. Regarding the lowest of low-hanging fruit -- cleaning up the earmarking process -- Democrats have simply adopted the practices they once called corrupt.